Back in October 2014, as co-Chair of Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus (MLGC), one of the UK’s largest LGBT+ choirs, Kathryn Pierce (then known as Kathryn Fox) created an anti-hate crime campaign in response to an attack on two young gay men singing songs from the musical “Wicked” on a city centre tram in Manchester.
The two men received homophobic abuse on the tram and when they disembarked, they were set upon by a gang and subjected to a violent attack.
The idea of the campaign was to reclaim the centre of Manchester as a safe space for people to sing and be LGBT+ openly on public transport. The subsequent “Safe To Sing” event Kathryn created took place on 17 November 2014 and involved the choir taking to the trams and singing in protest, culminating in an outdoor mass performance in Piccadilly Gardens.
The level of engagement and subsequent response to the campaign was overwhelming, with messages and emails and news coverage from all over the world. There were people who contacted us to thank us for taking a stand, there were others who enjoyed the spectacle itself, there were others who had been victims of homophobic hate crime who thanked us for the opportunity to reply to that violence in a constructive and creative way, alongside their fellow LGBT+ community members.
The choir won awards (Spirit of Manchester “Most Successful Campaign” 2015, Inclusive Networks’ “Social Network of the Year” award 2015) and were nominated for others (National Diversity Award “Community Organisation”; Manchester City Council Be Proud Awards “Community Force” finalist; Spirit of Manchester “Equalities Award” finalist). Kathryn was nominated Positive Role Model at the National Diversity Awards at the end of 2015 and for the LGBT Foundation’s Role Model of the Year award early 2016.
Creating a platform for positive LGBT+ culture, learning and activism resulted in the idea for Somewhere. This was developed between 2015-2017 as a postgraduate enterprise research project at Manchester Business School, which included a successful concept prototype and Big-Lottery-funded community consultation.
In 2017, it was decided that Somewhere MCR Community Interest Company would exist as our tech sister startup, and focus on digital innovation, while Founder Kathryn Pierce relocated Somewhere's community hub further north in Scotland, one of the most progressive and inclusive LGBT+ places in Europe.
In 2018, Somewhere EDI Community Interest Company was established.
August - Successful rollout of Somewhere At The Fringe. Founder Kathryn Pierce awarded Master of Enterprise in Arts and Cultural Management, with Merit
July - Somewhere: At The Fringe is our first LGBT+ Culture project, creating a go-to place for news, reviews, interviews and features from the LGBT+ shows at this year's Edinburgh Fringe
February - present: Launching in Scotland as Somewhere LGBT+ Culture and Enterprise Hub (incorporated as Somewhere EDI Community Interest Company, registered in Scotland, company number SC596856)
January - Master of Enterprise degree dissertation submitted
November - Decision taken to make Somewhere MCR a tech social enterprise based in Manchester, and relocate Somewhere's community hub to Edinburgh, Scotland as Somewhere EDI
July to November - Academic research phase: Study into career-based experiences and motivations for entrepreneurship among a diverse sample of LGBT+ entrepreneurs, for Master of Enterprise (MEnt) degree in Arts and Cultural Management, at the Institute of Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester
May and June - Deutsche Bank Creative Enterprise Awards Finalist 2017 (Performance category) and Venture Further 2017 Awards Runner Up (social category), Manchester Business School
March to December - Community engagement and co-creative phase: Survey, Somewhere Pioneer research panel, Big Lottery funded Community Consultation project involving 230+ people. Results showed strong interest and demand for this new way to improve the lives of LGBT+ people
January - Completed Lloyds Bank funded School of Social Entrepreneurs programme (NorthWest branch)
October - Business ideation phase begins: Campaign awards, shortlisting and nominations lead into early organisational development at Manchester Business School
15th September - Perpetrator of tram attack jailed in Manchester
12th August - Somewhere MCR Community Interest Company is founded as the project pilot. (Company registered in England and Wales, no. 9730111)
17th November - Safe to Sing event, with significant media and social impact
3rd November - Safe to Sing event and campaign launched, making global headlines
1st November - Homophobic attack on Jean-Claude Manseau and Jake Heaton, who were singing on a city-centre tram in Manchester